HGIA: Thomas Nast and Uncle Sam

Hand-colored wood engraving from the November 16, 1872, issue of Harper’s Weekly.

The medium of the political cartoon was indelibly shaped by the German-born artist and caricaturist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). The image here includes two of Nast’s creations, the stout personification of Great Britain, John Bull, and none other than Uncle Sam. Here Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany stands between America and Britain, helping to resolve a long-standing dispute over claims to the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. At the time this cartoon was published, on November 16, 1872, the Kaiser’s decision in favor of the U.S. had just been announced.

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